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First Amendment Issue Sparks Fireworks In Clarence | Politics

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First Amendment Issue Sparks Fireworks In Clarence
Politics
First Amendment Issue Sparks Fireworks In Clarence

According to Joseph M. Finnerty, Esq., a clear violation of the First Amendment right of free speech:

(BUFFALO, NY) - Two Clarence Town Board members don’t want Town resident and prominent businessman Daniel Snyder expressing his political views, especially in an election year in which one of them is trying to hold on to his council seat.

Last week the two councilmen, allies Peter DiCostanzo and Joseph Weiss, refused to grant Snyder’s entertainment company a permit to hold a patriotic Labor Day fireworks display on his own  property unless Snyder would agree to a political gag order.

The Town officials responsible for reviewing fireworks permit applications, Community Development Director James Callahan and Fire Chief Michael Rogowski both said Snyder met all the legal requirements for a permit.   And the Town Attorney, Steven Bengart, told the Board there was no legal reason to deny Snyder, who traditionally has held fireworks displays on other national holidays, including Independence Day.

Snyder has participated in this year’s political debate in Clarence by erecting signs on his properties and sponsoring newspaper ads critical of Weiss’ mean-spirited, intimidating style and his failure to support volunteer firemen, teachers and other public servants and residents.

When the Board considered Snyder’s long-pending permit request at its July 27 meeting,  DiCostanzo conditioned the permit on an agreement to ban all political signs.  When Snyder refused DiCostanzo and Weiss denied the permit--even though other council members cautioned that the illegal gag violates the U.S. Constitution.

But while the nay-saying Councilmen have silenced the fireworks for now, they may have ignited an explosive--and potentially expensive--constitutional crisis for the Town, and maybe for themselves personally.

Snyder has hired Buffalo First Amendment lawyer Joseph Finnerty to help resolve the situation.

“This is Clarence, New York, USA; not Communist China” said Snyder.  “Public officials can’t stifle political debate through threats, brow-beating and punishing tactics.  I’ve lived in Clarence a long time.  I support the community.  I just relocated my corporate headquarters here.  This just isn’t right.” 

Finnerty said: “I’ve been defending the First Amendment as a lawyer for almost thirty years.  In all that time, I personally have not encountered locally such a blatant public attack on political speech as Board Members Weiss and DiCostanzo made last week.   Civil libertarians should be outraged.  The issue isn’t fireworks anymore (if it ever was); it’s freedom of speech.”

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